Some of New Zealand’s top foodies invite us into their home kitchens, reveal their must-have staples and share ideas and tips with Britt Mann.
Home cook and author Annabel Langbein splits her time between houses in Wanaka and Auckland. She is pictured in her Remuera, Auckland, kitchen. I couldn’t live without lemons, garlic or ginger. And having a little armoury of sauces means I can change the flavours in a dish really easily.
This is the third or fourth kitchen I’ve designed. Right next to the hob, I have these big pull-out drawers where I have all my sauces and oils. And on the other side I have drawers with all the spices. All my flavourings are close to hand.
In the freezer I keep things like bacon, and in the fridge I always have parmesan cheese.
If I want a quick pasta meal I can grab a can of artichokes and fry off some bacon and throw in seasonal vegetables – whether it’s broccoli or spinach – and lots of parmesan cheese.
If I’ve invited people for dinner and only remembered at the last minute, I stop at the fish shop and get a really fresh piece of fish.
I’ll put on some rice the minute I get in the door and then I’ll marinate the fish – whether it’s a quick homemade teriyaki sauce or just sweet Thai chilli sauce with a bit of fish sauce and lime zest through it as a glaze. Or I might put Moroccan spices on top.
You flash-roast the fish in a really hot oven for 10 minutes. It makes it so easy. If I’ve gone for Asian flavours I’ll have some bok choy or spinach or if it’s Moroccan I will have made some couscous and put in cherry tomatoes, cucumber and flaked almonds. And I’ll serve it on a platter, so it feels abundant.
There’s an ingredient which we find more and more as New Zealand becomes more multicultural – belacan, which is a dried shrimp paste. It’s grey and incredibly unappetising but has the ability to confer wonders to your sauces and your stir-fry meals, adding this lovely depth of umami flavour.
I always try and have some yummy cheese in my fridge, and a nice glass of wine. I love goat’s cheese, but unless it’s running off a bus and onto the pavement, I can eat pretty much anything.
My kitchen in Wanaka is kind of my dream kitchen and I don’t think I got anything wrong there. In my kitchen in Auckland, what I like is that I can stand at the bench and look out the window at the garden.
It’s slightly contemplative – you can create these little moments in your life, whether you’re standing there with a cup of coffee or chopping some onions. It gives you some space to think. Langbein will be hosting cooking demonstrations at The Food Show in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland this year. Her 25th book, Essential: Best Ever Meals for Busy Lives, is out now.